5 Tips For Being Your Best Self At Work

I am passionate about women in business. I am passionate about women finding the confidence to be the best version of themselves in the workplace. To have a voice in a board room full of men and to not back down. To be proud of your work and to pursue the career you've always wanted. Today I'm sharing 5 things that have made a huge impact in my career over the years.

Tee: Everlane. Trousers: Everlane. Tote: Madewell

I have my quirks. I am talkative, goofy, overly friendly, like to make jokes, and like to ask deep questions about the company. Early on I felt I had to quiet my personality because I was afraid of what others would think of me. I've learned my co-workers aren't going to be just like me, and whether they like my personality or not that is there problem. Obviously my goal is not to be rude or obnoxious, but I've got a liveliness that some people might be turned off to. But here's the thing, I was hired because of my personality so why should I downplay it. Be YOU and don't worry about what others in the workplace think!

I think this is something you learn with age, but one thing I struggled with early on in my career was not asking enough questions if I had a problem. Many times if I faced a problem out of my control, I would immediately take it to my boss and ask for guidance or help. The issue was I didn't take the time to work through various solutions on my own before approaching my boss. It's ok to ask for help and not know the answer to a problem, but you need to be prepared to answer the questions your boss is going to ask you. A lot of the times they will ask you what you think is the best solution, and it looks terrible if you reply, "I don't know."

My mentor at State Farm gave me the best advice, and told me I would always be my biggest fan. No one would look out for my career as best as I would. I had to network, create opportunities for advances, and push myself because at the end of the day I was my biggest advocate. End of year reviews can be scary, but I've learned it's what I make them. You have to constantly be improving, pushing yourself, writing down your wins so that you can stand up for your accomplishments and performance when asked.

It's taken me a long time to realize I am creative. I thought because I don't play an instrument and can't draw or paint for crap that I'm not creative. That is a lie. Everyone is creative in some way. Whether that is problem solving, relationship building, strategic thinking...you name it there are many ways to be creative. I've also learned that if I need to come up with ideas or solutions I need to let my mind wander. I need no distractions. I need be one with my mind and body, and the way I do that is by embracing silence. I like to take a walk at least once a day, and when I do this I don't bring my phone and I don't listen to music. I simply walk and observe what's around me. These days we are constantly occupying our minds with our phones, computer screens, TV, podcasts, music and more. You need a mental break. Meditation is another great way to embrace silence although I've actually never tried it.

Negotiating my salary over the years has always been a struggle. I think most women struggle with this. Men...not so much. Men have this confidence I yearn for. When my husband goes in for an interview he says "I know I'm going to get it.". He has no self doubt what so ever. I on the other hand say things like, "Well....I might get it, but there could be someone out there more qualified." Whether my husband gets the job or not, he exudes confidence.

Stand up for yourself. I was bullied at my first job here in Austin, and it was surreal. I kept thinking, "Am I in high school right now?" After months of taking it and trying to confront my passive aggressive co-worker politely, I finally approached my boss who basically said, deal with it. That was tough to stomach, and ultimately I ended up quitting because I was so unhappy. So unhappy I would cry every day as I drove to work. Small companies are tough because you might not have an HR department which is what I was dealing with. If you're being bullied or harassed and management doesn't have your back, well you're kind of screwed. At that point I would say cut your losses and find an employer that doesn't condone that behavior.

Whatever career or side hustle you are pursing, don't give up. You might not be on the perfect path to get there, but set a goal and do everything you can to reach it. Put on your power pants on like these from Everlane and kick some butt!


Shelly @ The Queen in Between said...

Great tips Jesse! Having an amazing boss that both supported me and pushed me at an early point in my career was huge. I remember her saying to me "I don't want problems, I want solutions" after I had bitched about something one day. I was so pissed...but I went right back to my office and started finding solutions! She gave me the confidence I needed to take it to the next level. I sit on several committees where I am the only woman....the only outspoken woman on top of that. I actually had a guy pull me aside once to give me some "friendly" advice about keeping my mouth shut. If they ask me to the table, they better expect I will participate. Let's just say, he's now gone and I am still here. :)

chau_tu said...

Hi, I totally agree with all the points that you mentioned in this post. I seem to care too much how others think about my personality. Sometimes, I feel I am lost. I don't know my behaviors in the office are right or not....

Thank you for sharing.